"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem you had last year." ~John Foster Dulles~
It is so easy to get stuck. So easy to keep doing the same thing over and over. The toughest part of anything is getting started, but what happens if after starting it's not turning out exactly as expected. Of course, there needs to be a time of assessment and seeing if goals have been obtained. If a given approach is not working, try something else.
I love this quote from former Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. I used it first while losing a good deal of weight and realizing that losing weight was easy, but maintaining the loss was the tough part. I didn't want to deal with the same problem again. Within music therapy, I have always attempted to try something new, don't use the same old "moldy oldies." Working with geriatric residents is an easy population to attempt new ideas with. They are forgiving, patient and just happy to have someone with them. If an intervention doesn't work, try something else. Make a note of the failed intervention and either tweak it to improve the success rate or decide not to use it again.
This week, I was able to start using more music within my new position. My exercise program still has some tweaking to do, but I definitely know it is a successful musical exercise program as I've used it in the past and my new residents caught on quickly and with laughter, singing and lots of verbal interaction. I was able to conduct two "Music in Motion" programs and the second happened to be in a very public area where lots of visitors pass through. I received more compliments in that one day than I have in the last five years. Something new for them, but I've spent years tweaking it to make it successful. I'll share my favorite exercise songs and physical music routines sometime in the future.
What determines success? Is it being prepared musically? Is it having a perfect session plan created? Is it being ready for the unexpected? Success...
One of the biggest aspects of success is building off success. Experience being successful makes it easier to be successful again. After years and years of successful music therapy sessions, it is easier to develop sessions that will be successful. Build a session from beginning to end with the building blocks in mind. How do you want to start, end and what's in the body of the session. Are you building towards a climax and giving time for sensory awareness? Those are the first interventions I look for.
One program that I will be tweaking is the Hymn Sing that occurs weekly. The residents have done the same hymn sing for years and although it has familiar hymns and the residents feel comfortable with the routine, I've already told my Activity Director that whenever possible I will provide live music. I may use the canned music for another week or two while I tweak my own hymn sing to be successful. It's an already successful experience, but I'd like to make it even more personal with the "live" aspect. Starting with a familiar hymn that will remain the same every session, building towards a climatic event, which would be receiving Communion, giving time for sensory awareness with the drum entraining to "Holy Ground" and ending with a familiar hymn to close. My hymn sing will evolve and change and hopefully in a year I will not be saying that it's still a problem session for me.
Having to deal with the same problem over and over can be frustrating, stressful and draining. Develop a plan to deal with the problem and plan for success.